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Trailblazers Adventure Summer Camp, July 2023

This summer's session of Trailblazers Adventure summer Camp was one to remember! Marred by the hottest temperatures we’ve ever experience for camp, this session was a challenge for both students and staff alike. The high heat index didn’t stop us from having fun though. In fact, it only added to the experience!

Monday began with our usual introduction to camp as we explored the Bethel Springs Elementary School Nature Trail. After we set expectations and prepared for the week, we hopped on a school bus to visit the Concord Elementary School Nature Trail. The students enjoyed a refreshing walk of Webb Creek to help us beat the heat!

Tuesday we made our return to Okehocking Preserve: a Trailblazers adventure staple! Since conditions were so hot, we decided to go on a hike of the preserve as a whole group in the morning before things got too hot. We ended up having a very productive bird walk despite the large group! We had very close looks of a male Indigo Bunting. We also spotted a group of Turkey Vultures catching some sun on the ground in one of the fields. Around lunchtime, we observed one Cliff Swallow circling the ruins around the lunch table; a first-ever observation of the species for Trailblazers! Most exciting of all however was an adult Bald Eagle flying right over the preserve! Everyone got great looks at this amazing bird of prey (with a bonus Red Tailed Hawk circling in as well!) After lunch, we went for a walk in Ridley Creek, which was quickly delayed by incoming storms. We paused our activities for a bit as we let the storms pass. It never did thunderstorm for us, and the students were eventually able to go back in the creek before we headed home!

On Wednesday, we visited Valley Creek Park in Malvern. Since the weather called for a high heat index once again, we did the same plan as the day before: a whole group hike in the morning followed by creek walking in the afternoon. The morning hike went well for the most part. We had close views of a Red-eyed Vireo, then we also had a looks at a Pileated Woodpecker. After lunch, we got down in the creek, which was much colder and even more refreshing them the day before!

Thursday required a slight change of plans due to the heat yet again. In the morning, we stuck with our original plan of Birding at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Then, we added a pit stop on our itinerary to Ridley Creek State Park in the afternoon to cool off with some creek walking. Even though the heat was difficult, it was good we stuck with our original plan to visit Heinz because we had a very birdy morning! We had phenomenal looks at Osprey soaring over the marsh. We also had very cooperative Red-winged Blackbirds, Barn Swallows, and Wood Ducks. Our most notable observations though were one single Least Sandpiper and one distant Caspian Tern.

After an awesome morning of birding, we hopped back on the bus and enjoyed a creek walk at Ridley Creek State Park in our usual spot. The perfect way to end an awesome but very hot day!